TRIPS waiver: India commits WTO members

NEW DELHI: India regularly engages with countries such as Australia, Switzerland and Japan to allay their concerns over a proposed temporary waiver of certain provisions of a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on intellectual property rights to fight the coronavirus pandemic, a government official said on Monday.
The deliberations gain momentum as the 12th Ministerial Conference of 164 WTO countries based in Geneva is scheduled for November 30 to December 3.
In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement related to prevention , containment or treatment of Covid.
In May of this year, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa and Indonesia.
India has repeatedly stated that the proposal only asks for a temporary waiver of the provisions, as it would help in rapid vaccination and a revival of the global economy.
These countries have expressed some reservations and concerns on the proposal. According to them, the TRIPS agreement has built-in flexibilities such as compulsory license (CL) and voluntary license to deal with the situation. However, India’s position is that these flexibilities are not sufficient to cope with the situation and the issuance of a LC is a lengthy process.
A CL can be invoked by a national government authorizing a company to produce a patented product without the consent of the patentee in the public interest.
Immunization coverage so far in low-income countries is around 4.5% of the total population, compared to 70% in high-income countries, meaning that existing flexibilities are not helping to cope. to the situation.
IPRs are a barrier to affordable and seamless accessibility of Covid vaccines and other products, especially for developing countries and poor countries, the official said.


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